Thao & the Get Down Stay Down

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Thao & the Get Down Stay Down
Thao with The Get Down Stay Down & Horse Feathers Live in Portland, Oregon at The Woods 7/28/09
Thao with The Get Down Stay Down & Horse Feathers Live in Portland, Oregon at The Woods 7/28/09
Background information
OriginFalls Church, Virginia, United States
GenresFolk rock, alternative rock
Years active2003–2021
LabelsTrust Me Corporation
Kill Rock Stars
Ribbon Music
Past membersThao Nguyen
Adam Thompson
Charlie Glenn
Jason Slota
Johanna Kunin
Willis Thompson
Frank Stewart

Thao & the Get Down Stay Down was an American alternative/folk rock group that originated in Falls Church, Virginia in 2003, before relocating to San Francisco, California. Its final lineup consisted of Thao Nguyen (lead vocals, guitar) and Adam Thompson (bass guitar, keyboards, backing vocals). Previous members of the project included Frank Stewart (lead guitar, production) and Willis Thompson (drums). The band released five studio albums: We Brave Bee Stings and All (2008), Know Better Learn Faster (2009), We the Common (2013), A Man Alive (2016) and Temple (2020).


Thao Nguyen met drummer Willis Thompson while studying for her degrees in Sociology and Women's Studies at College of William & Mary.[1][2][3] Willis Thompson was a member of Camp Tigerclaw, Acousticore, and Murphy's Kids. He is also a contributing member to the band The Light Footwork. Thao Nguyen and Willis Thompson met Adam Thompson (no relation) during a show at the Harrison Street Coffee Shop in Richmond, Virginia. At the time, Adam Thompson was performing as a solo jazz-influenced act under the moniker The OK Bird. Frank Stewart, member of the bands Durian and Verbal, would produce the first album Like the Linen in 2005 and join the band as a lead guitarist. Although only Willis and Nguyen initially performed live on tour, the four members began touring as a group during the Kill Rock Stars' Sound the Hare Heard tour during the summer of 2006. The name of the band was originally suggested by a former bassist of the band. Nguyen would expand the initial suggestion of "The Get Down" to "The Get Down Stay Down". Thao Nguyen still occasionally performs as a soloist, including a European tour with Laura Veirs and the Tortured Souls in August 2006.

After sending Like the Linen to Laura Veirs, Thao connected with Tucker Martine, Veirs' drummer and producer for The Decemberists and Sufjan Stevens. In August 2006, the group began recording with Martine in Seattle and released the album, We Brave Bee Stings and All, in January 2008. Thao Nguyen has since moved to San Francisco, California. The band toured in 2008 with Xiu Xiu, and separately with Rilo Kiley before heading out on their first headlining tour that summer.[4]

Thao & the Get Down Stay Down released their second album, Know Better Learn Faster, on October 13, 2009. Thao was joined by Andrew Bird on the title track. The band toured the US with The Portland Cello Project and David Shultz and the Skyline in late 2009, and spent time touring the US and Europe in Winter/Spring 2010.

In early 2010, Nguyen collaborated with Mirah, culminating in a collaborative album.

The band's track "When We Swam" is the opening theme for the Australian prime-time TV series Offspring (which premiered in Australia in August 2010).

The band also composed and performed the soundtrack for the 2011 film, American Teacher.[5]

On October 25, 2012, Ribbon Music announced Nguyen signed with the label for the release of her new album entitled, We the Common,[6] and unveiled the first single "Holy Roller" via YouTube.[7][8] The album, released on February 5, 2013,[9][10] features 12 tracks including a collaboration with indie songstress Joanna Newsom on "Kindness Be Conceived", Nguyen and Newsom having met at a songwriters' retreat.[11][12][13] This time around, she says, her album is "a lot less about my problems and more about how I could be a better participant in my life. There's a sense of revival and gratitude throughout the record that adds to this vitality of it."[14] As part of the promotional tour for the album, Thao & the Get Down Stay Down joined the lineup of numerous music festivals, including 2013's South by Southwest and Outside Lands Music and Arts Festival.[15][16]

In November 2013 the band released an EP, The Feeling Kind, which included cover versions of songs by Melanie, the Troggs, and Yo La Tengo.[17]

Thao & the Get Down Stay Down released their fourth studio album, A Man Alive, on March 4, 2016. The album was produced by Merrill Garbus, who also produced Thao and Mirah's collaborative album, Thao + Mirah.[18]

Thao & the Get Down Stay Down released their fifth album Temple, Nguyen's first album since coming out publicly to the press as queer.[19] The A.V. Club wrote that the album marks "the reconciliation of her queer identity and her Vietnamese culture with a 10-song set that similarly combines post-punk deconstruction with hi-fi grooves."[20]

On October 3, 2021, Nguyen announced via Instagram that the group was "dissolving," with her and Thompson "moving on to pursue other projects."[21]

Band members[edit]



  • The Feeling Kind (2013), Ribbon Music
Compilation contributions
  • Thao/The Thermals Record Store Day Split 7" (2009) EP split with the Thermals, released for Record Store Day – April 18, 2009
  • The Thao and Justin Power Sessions (2009) with The Portland Cello Project
  • Thao + Mirah (2011) LP with Mirah


  1. ^ Song of the Day: September 30, 2009 - Retrieved 2011-01-25.
  2. ^ "Thao Nguyen's Women's Prison Work: The Painful, Inspiring Stories of Four Inmates". Retrieved 17 June 2013.
  3. ^ "Singer-songwriter Thao Nguyen (Women's Studies, '06) releases her new album". College of William & Mary. Archived from the original on 13 May 2011. Retrieved 17 June 2013.
  4. ^ Katzif, Mike. "Thao Nguyen: Tiny Desk Concert". Retrieved 2016-06-04.
  5. ^ "American Teacher Soundtrack". Different Fur Studios. Archived from the original on 25 July 2011. Retrieved 6 July 2011.
  7. ^ "Thao & The Get Down Stay Down – "Holy Roller"". 25 October 2012. Retrieved 25 October 2012.
  8. ^ "Thao And The Get Down Stay Down Tease New Album". Retrieved 25 October 2012.
  9. ^ "Thao & The Get Down Stay Down's New Album "We The Common" Out February 5th". Retrieved 1 November 2012.
  10. ^ "Thao & The Get Down Stay Down Announce "We The Common" Out February 5 Via Ribbon Music". Retrieved 25 October 2012.
  11. ^ "Hear Thao & the Get Down Stay Down's Spirited 'Holy Roller'". Retrieved 25 October 2012.
  12. ^ Studarus, Laura (2013) "The 10 Best Musical Collaborations of 2013", Paste, December 22, 2013. Retrieved January 4, 2014
  13. ^ Lao, Melody (2013) "Thao Nguyen Talks the Sound of 'We the Common,' Her Joanna Newsom Collab, and... Rapping?", Exclaim!, January 29, 2013. Retrieved January 4, 2014
  14. ^ Lau, Melody (2013-02-06). "Thao & The Get Down Stay Down We the Common". Retrieved 2016-06-04.
  15. ^ "Paul McCartney, Nine Inch Nails, Phoenix, Yeah Yeah Yeahs Heading to Outside Lands 2013". Retrieved 27 April 2013.
  16. ^ "Featured Artist: Thao and The Get Down Stay Down". Archived from the original on 27 April 2013. Retrieved 27 April 2013.
  17. ^ Bowe, Miles (2013) "Thao & The Get Down Stay Down – “The Feeling Kind” Video (Stereogum Premiere)",, November 6, 2013. Retrieved January 4, 2014
  18. ^ "Thao & The Get Down Stay Down Drops New Album, Set to Play the Fillmore". 2016-02-18. Retrieved 2016-06-04.
  19. ^ Griffiths, Sophie. "DIVA chats to Thao Nguyen all about her new record, coming out to the world and Zoom music video magic". DIVA. Retrieved 16 June 2020.
  20. ^ "5 new releases we love: Perfume Genius gets loose, The Magnetic Fields return, and more". The A.V. Club. Retrieved 16 June 2020.
  21. ^ "Instagram photo by Thao". Archived from the original on 2021-12-24. Retrieved 2021-10-03.
  22. ^ "Thao & the Get Down Stay Down announce new album Temple, plus tour dates". March 10, 2020. Retrieved 16 May 2020.
  23. ^ "Thao - 30 Days, 30 Songs". 30 Days 30 Songs. Retrieved June 22, 2020.

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